New findings from the National Association of Realtors® show that a record high 77 percent of Americans believe that now is a good time to sell a house, while those that think now is a good time to buy continues to decline.
NAR’s second quarter Housing Opportunities and Market Experience (HOME) survey1also found that a majority of consumers believe prices have and will continue to rise, while the quality of schools is a critical factor in deciding whether or not to buy a home.
Half of all Americans strongly believe now is a good time to sell (compared to 46 percent last quarter), while 27 percent moderately believe this is the right time (29 percent last quarter). Respondents in the West are the most likely to think now is a good time (85 percent) as are those who currently own a home (82 percent). Only 22 percent believe that now is not a good time to sell, down from 29 percent in the second quarter.
Optimism that now is a good time to buy has declined slightly from last quarter. Sixty-three percent of respondents either strongly or moderately believe that now is a good time buy compared to 68 percent last quarter. Among renters, positive feelings about purchasing continue to fall, dropping from 49 percent in the second quarter to 45 percent this quarter. Optimism is highest among older U.S. households (65 or over) and those with a household income of more than $100,000 a year (70 and 68 percent respectively).
NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun says several consecutive years of strong home price growth are enticing homeowners to consider selling. “Though the vast majority of consumers believe home prices will continue to increase or hold steady, they understand the days of easy, fast gains could be coming to an end. Therefore, more are indicating that it is a good time to sell, which is a healthy shift in the market.”
Respondents were also asked about their view of home prices in their neighborhoods. Seventy percent believe that home prices have gone up in their area in the last 12 months, up from 68 percent in the second quarter. Fifty-three percent also believe that home prices will continue to increase in their communities in the next six months; this is down from the last quarter (55 percent).
Consumers feeling positive about the economy and concerned about qualifying for a mortgage
A near-record high of 60 percent of households believe that the economy is improving – up slightly from 58 percent last quarter and up significantly from 53 percent in the third quarter of 2017. People in a household income of over $100,000 are more likely to view the economy as improving (67 percent) compared with those with an income $50,000 to $100,000 (64 percent) and under $50,000 (49 percent).
The HOME survey’s monthly Personal Financial Outlook Index2, showing respondents’ confidence that their personal financial situation will be better in six months, rose slightly from 62.1 in June to 62.6 in September. A year ago, the index was 62.0.
Among those who do not currently own a home, 28 percent of those surveyed believe that it would be very difficult to qualify for a mortgage and 31 percent believe that it would be somewhat difficult given their current financial situation (compared to 26 and 28 percent last month respectively). “This is most likely a manifestation of the constantly rising prices,” said Yun. “As prices rise so do down payments, making the mortgage qualifying process more challenging.”
Importance of Highly Rated Schools, Other Factors in Homebuying Decision
In this quarter’s survey, homeowners and non-homeowners were asked how important high rated schools are in their home buying decision. Over two-thirds of those surveyed said that highly rated schools were either very or somewhat important in their decision (47 percent and 23 percent, respectively).
When asked about what considerations were taken into account when choosing a new neighborhood, 25 percent of respondents ranked proximity to friends and family as most important, followed by proximity to their job and a short commute (24 percent). Proximity to friends and family is most important to those in rural areas (31 percent) compared to suburban and urban (25 and 21 percent respectively).
“When you buy a home, you do not just buy the house; you buy a community – neighbors, parks, stores and schools,” said NAR President Elizabeth Mendenhall, a sixth-generation Realtor® from Columbia, Missouri and CEO of RE/MAX Boone Realty. “Realtors® understand the unique qualities of the neighborhoods in their area and can help individual families find and purchase the right home in the right neighborhood.”
Respondents were also asked about the number of homes available for sale in their communities. Fifty-six percent of respondents reported that the number of homes available for sale in the neighborhood has remained the same over the past six months, while 23 percent said they have observed more homes for sale than usual.